09/08/2009 4:41 PM ET
Justin Upton: Making progress
D-backs right fielder finding more consistency
Last week I set a career high for myself in games played at this level. You will always get some bumps and bruises over the long season, but I feel good on the whole. I also feel good about the way I've swung the bat this year.
Last year, I played in more than 100 games. But when I look back, it seems I had a lot of peaks and valleys. I believe I really only had two good stretches last season, stretches when I felt I swung the bat really well.
This year, I feel like I've been able to better regulate my slumps, which, in turn, has helped me make a bigger contribution to the club. Experience has played a big part in that.
The more you are around something, the more comfortable you feel. The more you try and learn at this level, the better off you'll be. I realize I'm still young and this is still a long process, but I see myself making progress.
I'm pleased that I've also been able to swing the bat well in the couple weeks since returning from my strained oblique injury, too. Unlike last year, I never really felt like I lost my edge during the down time. But there were a couple of key differences. Last year, I was on the DL for a longer period of time. This year, I was able to start swinging the bat a little bit sooner, too. That helped. It gave me confidence when I got back.
I've also been happy with my progress in base running and reducing my strikeouts. We work on base running a lot in Spring Training. We're a team that has speed and we want to maximize that speed. I think this year I've shown I can run the bases well and steal bases.
Cutting down on strikeouts goes back to experience, too. I've seen some of the pitchers a few times now. Having history with a guy certainly helps. It helps you game-plan better and if you know what you're trying to do, it helps.
There's still a few weeks of baseball left and plenty of work to be done. We have a lot we can do during that time. We want to compete against teams like the Dodgers, Giants and Rockies -- teams that are still in the race -- and let them know we have some new guys and some young guys who are going to compete hard and play the game hard.
We still want to win ballgames. We want to see what the rest of our team looks like going forward. How we compete in these final weeks will say a lot about our future.
Justin Upton, who recently turned 22 and earlier this summer earned his first trip to the All-Star Game, has been one of the Diamondbacks' most consistent and productive players this season, establishing personal-bests in nearly every offensive statistical category despite a strained right oblique injury that kept him out of action for 21 days in August.